Monday 8 February 2010

Review: Youth in Revolt

Year: 2010
Director: Miguel Arteta
Screenplay: Gustin Nash
Starring: Micheal Cera, Portia Doubleday, Steve Buscemi, Zach Galifanakis, Fred Willard

Plot Synopsis is here

Based on a very well liked series of novels by C.D Payne, and directed by Miguel Arteta director of one of the only bearable Jennifer Aniston movies (The Good Girl), Youth in Revolt sees Micheal Cera once again in familiar territory as Nick Whisp. Is he yet another angsty, deer in headlights, teen in love with a girl that seems a little bit out of his league? You bet!

However, the novel, noted for it's offbeat humor and camp attitude has thrown a spanner into the works, and Cera plays, not only his typical casual geek self but also a slick, badboy alter ego whose dying to get into trouble in order to get into a girls panties. And whose said draws are they? They are the filly undergarments of Sheeni Saunders played by Portia Doubleday; a name that would have Bond screenwriters nodding in approval. With a build up like this what's not to like?

In my opinion, not a lot. Youth and Revolt may have 16 year olds that are a little too well spoken for their own damn good, but for me, it was laugh out loud funny and that's all that matters. In fact it's a film that did that troubling thing of making me laugh louder then I should, embarrassing my hot black ass in front of the other people in the cinema. It reveals in it's dark fantasy humor but bizarrely has an odd funny-because-it's-true feel to it. maybe because Twisp reminds me of myself at that age. Miguel Arteta taps into that "small town livin" atmosphere that made The Good Girl so interesting to watch and gives it an abstract twist that may remind some of his earlier entry; Chuck and Buck. Arteta pitches it's farce so well I couldn't stop grinning and while the humor isn't in Observe and Report territory it grabs hold of the absurdity it has got a pushes it as well as it can.

It's fanastic material for Cera who still does his doe eyed Schick but adds range with the alter ego of Francois Dillinger; a bad ass who makes even his most dubious comments sound almost charming (at one point he asks Sheeni to wrap her legs around his face so he can wear her like the crown that she is). It shouldn't be that funny...but it had me on the floor. One of Cera's main strengths as always been to turn a phase and here he's allowed to do it by the truckload. It helps that the writing here is perfect for him; quick witted and sharp but with that innocence that only comes out with his delivery. I don't think i described it well enough but I think that sounds better just works.

While this is the Micheal Cera show, the film has a fine support cast for him to bounce off of. Fred Willard and Steve Buscemi are indie kings of this sort of thing while Zach Galifanakis delivers more oddball (read funny) work that made him the breakout star of The Hangover. Speaking of debuts, the role Sheeni played by Ms Doubleday is one of looks more than talent. Not to say she's bad....but this isn't really the part that show of her acting chops, although it will show off enough flesh to have teenagers develop their own alter egos and do bad things to get her attention.

If there's something I didn't like about the film it is the fact that the film pitters out towards the end and loses a lot of it's humor this is mostly to tie up the frayed ends of the plot, which is understandable but a shame.

However, for a February film release, Youth and Revolt is nutty, witty and full of charm. Arteta works best with his small pockets of the bizarre and Cera does his best work with that deer gaze of his. Combine this with his newly found range, a pencil thin tache and a fondness for Fellini that was hilariously missing from the overblown Nine and we're in business.

Hear me rave about this movie on The Cinematic Dramatic Podcast at Geek Planet Online